The global food crisis could close the Catholic seminary in the central Nigerian city of Makurdi by June 20 as “astronomical prices” force food rationing there.
According to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the major seminary has at least 520 seminarians from 15 dioceses around the country. The seminary’s food problems are compounded by electricity supply problems caused by the rising price of diesel, which has increased by one third in just one week.
Seminarians’ home dioceses are also taxed by rising food and gas prices.
Since the food crisis began in April, the seminary has taken out credit to function. Seminary rector Monsignor Kenneth Enang told ACN that he may be forced to close the seminary before the students begin to suffer from malnourishment and the debts increase further.
Monsignor Enang said that the seminary had only recently been planning to expand because of inadequate space. The number of seminarians had increased to 520 from 400.
In a previous report, Monsignor Enang had told ACN he was delighted at the “good vocations” and the well-qualified staff. He had said the seminary was a “bridge” between north and south Nigeria. In the young men’s camaraderie, he said, one could see “how Nigeria ought to look.”
Monsignor Enang has said the growth of the Catholic Church in Nigeria is “phenomenal.” Adherents of traditional African religions are often drawn to Christianity.
However, there are still too few priests, especially in rural areas.
Father Andrzei Halemba, head of the Africa desk of ACN, said that feeding seminarians is a major expense for African seminaries, and further price rises are expected. He said the global food crisis could threaten other seminaries in the Third World.